As a senior citizen, I take comfort in the fact that there are still areas for me to grow. I’ve identified 4 ways in which I measure growth in my path to spiritual maturity.
- Conquering fears – The first step here is for me to identify the fear and not try to brush it off or ignore it. Next I analyze the fear to explain why I have it and whether it is reasonable or based on unlikely circumstances. Then I deny the fear power over me. Lastly I power through it with positive action.
- Processing anger – Again my first step is to own that I’m angry. I next analyze the situation to determine if I am misinterpreting something or blowing something out of proportion or if the situation requires some action. Then I affirm that I am in control. Lastly I decide that I’m going to drop the feelings and move on or take some positive action to address the situation.
- Seeing the Christ in difficult people – First I own that I find a person difficult. Then I analyze why I feel this way. Sometimes that reveals that I have fears to conquer and angers to process. I put myself in their shoes in order to understand their point of view. Sometimes I just have to accept that we have different values or “overlapping agendas”. I need to own my own attitudes and feelings and let them own theirs. It helps if I can find one thing to respect and admire about them and focus on it. While going through this process I often discover that I harbored faulty impressions and misconceptions about them. When this occurs I work to quickly shed these perceptions and replace them with my new information.
- Appreciating the Oneness and promoting community. In any group I find myself, I try to create a feeling of intimacy and caring and community whether the group exists for just a few hours or is a long-term group such as a family or neighborhood or work group or church. Often my effort involves recognition and appreciation of the natural community that already exists. Other times it means me projecting positive energy, love , compassion, and empathy.
Achieving spiritual growth in these areas requires diligence, courage, and hard work. However, I have discovered some shortcuts. If I affiliate myself with a spiritual community, if I spend time in meditation, if I take spiritually oriented classes, if I insert myself into the positive flow of energy, I am often surprised at the results. I encounter situations where I used to be fearful and all of a sudden I realize the fear has disappeared. Situations that used to upset me no longer do. I count people as friends that I used to find difficult. And several times a week I experience true community and Oneness with other people. And I am happy and grateful.